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WHAT IS TAI CHI

T’ai Chi Chuan is an ancient exercise which embodies China’s most profound concepts and principles of health and movement. It offers true harmony between body and mind.

Based on softness and awareness (rather than force and resistance) Tai Chi Chuan (also referred to as Tai Chi, Tai Ji, or Taijiquan) has been recognized for centuries as both a method of self-cultivation and an unexcelled form of self defence. T’ai Chi means “Supreme Ultimate.”

Practiced at a slow and even speed, Tai Chi promotes relaxation, straight posture, and balance. Tai Chi movements are widely acknowledged to help calm the emotions, focus the mind, and strengthen the immune system. In a very real sense, Tai Chi helps us to stay younger as we grow older, thus making an outstanding contribution to our overall health and well-being.

Please scroll down to read about Qi Gong. Thames Tai Chi is based in Cholsey near Wallingford, south Oxfordshire and is a branch of the Tai Chi Foundation – a not-for-profit educational organisation that draws on over 30 years of experience whose members seek to study and teach Tai Chi Chuan as a way to bring health and consciousness to humanity.

See: www.taichifoundation.org For information on our London classes please refer to: www.londontaichi.org First and foremost T’ai Chi Chuan is a discipline for the accumulation, cultivation and refinement of Qi. This refinement can only be successfully conducted with a relaxed mind and body. The Qi is directed and accumulated in an energetic centre known as the Dan Tien located in the lower abdomen – we sense our body and it’s movements from this centre. In relaxing our mind and emotions to the Dan Tien, the internal chatter we always have can calm and subside.

The meditation of T’ai Chi is not one in which we shut out the outside world to go within. It is a balancing of internal and external awareness. It allows us to deal with the world from a more grounded, centred base. In this way, T’ai Chi meditation is a very practical tool, at work for us through our day. The postures and movements help the body to release tension in the muscles and encourage flexibility in the joints.  The slow shifting of weight from foot to foot strengthens the legs and helps the circulation of blood through the body.

The rhythmical contraction and relaxation of the leg muscles helps to move the blood and reduces the workload of the heart. The feet are flat on the ground and the form is practised low, with the knees relaxed, developing our stability and balance. The spine is straight, improving our posture. The practice of Tai Chi also improves our health by encouraging the circulation of our internal Qi energy throughout the body. In Chinese medicine it is said “blood follows Qi”, so the circulation of Qi nourishes the health of the internal organs.

Our joints and musculature are gently opened and stretched enhancing flexibility and relaxation. Tai Chi is an excellent weight bearing exercise providing real benefits in the prevention and management of osteoporosis. It is said that with diligent practice of Tai Chi Chuan over time one will develop the “flexibility of a child, the strength of a lumberjack and the peace of mind of a sage”.

Through our daily practice of this slow and conscious movement, we re-connect with our essential self, so our Tai Chi is a path to deeper self-understanding and transcendent spirit.  Although Tai Chi Chuan is an embodiment of Confucian and Taoist philosophy, it speaks the universal language of harmony and unity. The Tai Chi symbol is the familiar black and white circle, gracefully depicting the balance of opposites, with each half containing the seed of its opposite. Ultimately, we see how our individual sense of balance and harmony expands to our interaction with others and the world around us.

There are different ideas on the origin of Tai Chi. One of the most common is that of a monk who, in observing the attacking and defending movements of a bird and a snake, conceived of a method of self defence that was based on relaxation, timing and balance rather than muscular strength. Tai Chi was taught at first within families, developing into 4 or 5 family styles. As a martial art it was kept in the family, withheld for the master and his few disciples.

In the past century it was made available to more of the Chinese populace at large, and then to the Western world. Perhaps the most popular style of Tai Chi today is the Yang style (from the Yang family) short form (37 postures, rather than 150 or so), through the teaching of Prof. Cheng Man-Ch’ing (sometimes called Cheng Man-Ch’ing style). 

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